Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the dengue outbreak in Dhaka may turn into a full-blown epidemic putting a squeeze on the already exhausted healthcare system, warned entomologists.
"The current dengue situation is at the stage of slipping into an epidemic. We cannot provide the details about the situation since the infection data are not available at healthcare facilities that have been struggling with the Covid crisis," Dr Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury, chairman of the Centre for Governance Studies (CGS), told a press briefing on Wednesday.
Raising questions about the role of the authorities in tackling the mosquito-borne disease, Dr Manjur suggested killing adult Aedes mosquitoes instead of destroying mosquito larvae.
According to the health directorate, 1,954 patients were diagnosed with dengue until 28 July this year. Of them, 1,573 were diagnosed with the disease in July, which indicates a sharp rise in the Aedes-borne disease. Two hundred and seventy-two citizens were infected in June while 43 were infected in May.
Dr Manjur said, "Mosquito density is higher at peri-domestic locations such as the ground floor of a building or the garage. Anti-mosquito crash programmes should cover these spots. Apart from realising fines from buildings with Aedes larvae, the establishments need to be cleaned up and anti-mosquito drives should also conduct raids at public buildings," he noted.
He also emphasised personal measures to tackle the outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease.
"Since children are more susceptive to dengue, they demand extra attention now. Parents must put children under mosquito nets when they sleep. Besides, we have to clean our houses regularly and throw away stagnant water from indoor flower pots, drinking bowls of pets, trays, or plastic containers. If anyone develops a fever, we have to test for both dengue and Covid-19," he added.
Touhid Uddin Ahmed, a medical entomologist and former chief scientific officer for the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said, "Dengue outbreaks are like waves, and the intensity is not the same every year. We have been experiencing different levels of infection intensity since 2000."
He said the authorities should have prepared beforehand to deal with the mosquito menace this monsoon, and there should have been surveys of the mosquito population.
"Monsoon this year appeared early and the temperature was high too, providing perfect conditions for mosquitoes to breed. But there were no surveys carried out by the city corporations of the mosquito vector population," he continued.
Touhid Uddin Ahmed added that the anti-mosquito programmes should focus on killing adult mosquitoes instead of larvae, and the government should consult with entomologists to make the drives more effective.
National University Prof Dr GM Saifur Rahman also addressed the programme that was moderated by CGS Executive Director Zillur Rahman.